The World 4 Realz learns about saving money!
It’s been a really long time since I wrote anything about personal finance or saving money. It didn’t seem very popular with the snarky crowd. Not that I’m complaining! Money and economic types of things are boring. I’m glad to know you agree. Makes me feel less immature.
Grownups examine their monies.
Be that as it may, I still have to be adult-like and look at my dollars every now and again. The hubz and I made a scary-fantastic discovery last month. We are actually able to squeeze some money into our savings account, and avoid immediately withdrawing it. This is amazing because we are the least disciplined people at saving money I have ever heard of.
Keeping in mind how terrible we are at keeping our mitts off the rainy-day fund, we had to go to some ridiculous lengths to make this happen. I don’t recommend this for everyone, but if you are anything like us, you may wanna give it a go. What’s the worst that could happen? For realz!
We don’t owe a single cent! *and there was much throwing of glitter*
First of all, you should be aware that we have zero credit card debt. Everything in our home is owned outright. Even our vehicle is in the clear. The only debt we actually have is our mortgage and a veritable cornucopia of unpaid medical bills.
Full disclosure: When I say we have zero credit card debt, you should not read that as, “Oh, what responsible citizens!” The truth is, we couldn’t get credit extended our way, even if we wanted it. Which we don’t. So that’s convenient!
Even with no bills beyond our mortgage and utilities, we still don’t have a lot left over at the end of each month. We live in a big, old house, so our utility bills added together just about equal our house payment. That’s nuts! And of course, we can’t afford to fix anything that breaks, whether it’s an appliance or a car part.
Why are we bothering with saving money?
The first thing we had to do, in sitting down to discuss our plight, was figure out what the hellz we were even saving money FOR. I’ve talked about my feelings regarding retirement versus college, but both of those are pretty much beyond our scope at the moment anyway.
As we saw it, our two options were this:
(1) Saving money toward fixing up a house to lower our utility bills and hopefully keep up with maintenance, in which case our potential savings will always be drained to pay for the next house repair.
(2) Saving money toward a deposit on an apartment, where someone else is responsible for maintenance, so our potential savings can be applied toward something else, like for example, ice cream. Just kidding. I have my eyes on a trip to Europe someday.
The second point was definitely more appealing, so it looks like we’re getting out of here. I’m sad, because I thought we were moving into this house permanently. Even though we’ll be staying within the school district, we’re going to end up in town rather than out in the country. I am not looking forward to leaving our little deli or our bakery.
I’m also very excited, because (as a military brat) I love moving! This will be a great opportunity to shed some of the boxes we have stored away, to purge and minimalize our belongings. Since we have so much CRAP, I haven’t felt seriously motivated to sort through and organize — which means this house has never felt very home-ish to me. I’m already looking at an apartment as HOME, because I’ll be able to get it right, straight from day one.
So now we have a reason to save. And we have a goal. How to implement it?
Make someone else do all the work! For free!
We are huge fans of automation, because we are truly lazy people. I don’t know how people ever managed to pay bills, back in the days of writing checks, addressing envelopes, licking stamps, and walking to a drop box to send it off via snail-mail. I’ve heard some people still operate this way, but I think that’s just a legend like Big Foot or the Lochness Monster. Every Sunday evening, we go online and log into our checking account to see where we’re at. We don’t write checks, so there’s nothing to mentally deduct from the available balance. We’re also fortunate that our debit cards process transactions almost immediately, so there are never any “surprises” from items we forgot were purchased.
Whatever the available balance is, it’s almost always 100% accurate. The few times it’s slightly off are due to restaurants that run our card for the amount of the meal without factoring in the tip, which shows up a couple days later. But since we don’t eat out very often, we know to be on the lookout for that.
Automatic Bill Pay — thank you for being in my life. I love you.
I have a system for paying bills and saving money.
1. I have a binder in which I keep our bills. Each bill resides in its own transparent document protector. This keeps it within easy access for either of us, and makes it easy to flip through during budgeting.
2. Anytime a bill arrives, either via snail-mail or email, a hard copy goes into the correct pocket. I don’t toss out the older copy until Sunday when I ensure the new copy correctly reflects payments, balances, etc.
3. On Sunday, I turn the pages of the binder to see what bills are coming up due. Then I go to the Automatic Bill Pay section of bank account, and I schedule those puppies around our paydays. Whenever a payment has been scheduled, I notate such with a huge sharpie marker in a fun, bright color that won’t be missed.
4. While I’m in the Automatic Bill Pay section, I also double-check what was sent out the previous payday against whatever notes are on the bills in my binder.
5. I treat saving money as a bill. A bill that gets mailed from our checking account to a savings account at a bank that is a half-hour from where we live. We have no debit or ATM cards for this savings account. We have to drive there during banking hours to get money out. That’s the kind of tough discipline we need. Pathetic, aren’t we?
Hoorayz for Saving Money!
Now we know we can save money, because we’ve done it. Only once, of course, and we’re about to withdraw it for our trip to New York this weekend. But that’s all irrelevant. We agreed upon what we’re saving money for, we worked out a method, and we put it into successful practice.
I would say that means we’re all growed up now!